Man, I LOVED being outside. What my elders used to say, “Out there in those streets where you ain got no bitness bein.” From nine years old, the earliest recollection I have of my childhood, you couldn’t tell me NOTHIN. Hell yeah, I loved being in the streets where I was jumped at least once a week by the neighborhood boys, mad because I would refuse to have sex with them. Hell yeah I loved the streets, where old men who KNEW I was underaged, offered to take me home. Yeah man, I chose the streets; where I was raped both statutory and violently. Gimme the streets where I drank, smoked, and did alllll types of things I had no business doing at my age.
Why? Because it was better than “home.” “Home” where the pedophile was. “Home” where we never had a phone, food, or even water, electricity, or heat sometimes. “Home” where there was no mother 80% of the time. “Home” where I, the oldest, was the only one to make sure my siblings and I were relatively clean, fed, and “safe.” Where I had no sense of security, forced to hide from the landlord who demand rent. Hearing the pedophile beat on my mother when she was there and scared to DEATH of what would happen next to any one of us.
Live for What
I was 12 when I “tried” to kill myself. Came home from school, probably devastated because kids made fun of my skips that holes in them or that I smelled like dirty clothes. Most likely. Whatever the reason, I had enough. I had a pink bean bag and I stuffed my face in it to suffocate myself. But dammit, I couldn’t even kill myself right. Too damn scared to cut or hang myself and mad because my lungs forced me to take in air.
One of the only things I remember my mother ever doing for me, was giving me a CD that day. She came in the room, said, “I got you that girl you always listening to.” When she tossed it to me, I just remember staring at the cover. Straight staring at it in disbelief. With her eyes barely visible from the cover of her hat, big hoop earrings and red lipstick. What?! Mary J. Blige?!?! My Life??!?!!! Man listen. I played that CD until it skipped too much to be played anymore. I FINALLY had somebody that spoke to my soul. When I listened to that album, she was telling me I wasn’t ugly like I heard ALL the time. She told me I’m more than a sex toy. She told me there IS a higher power and that I am highly favored. That album told me I had a purpose and a reason to be here. It saved every cell in my body. Mary J. Blige did.
Lost and Found
It would have been nice if this was the part where things began to look up. I mean, I guess it did. I wound up moving when I was 13 and had a boyfriend that was my escape and one of my best friends til this day. I faded into the background at my new school and was left alone. But I was already scarred. NO self-esteem or self-confidence. Always a completely hopeless feeling when I thought about my future. We were homeless; living with my grandmother, my mother’s friends, her boyfriend’s family, where ever. Had my first miscarriage when I was 17. Stayed out all the time, doing whatever the hell I wanted to do.
As soon as I graduated High School I was OUT. Edison Job Corps here I come. I went JUST for a place for me to go so I wasn’t sleeping on the damn floor anymore. I was so desperate to go, I remember forging a court signature because I was afraid an open traffic ticket would stop me from going. I stayed until I got a job, about six months after I got there. I didn’t speak to not one person in my family for almost two years. It was only then did I have space and freedom to discover who I truly was. Sure. I still messed up. Quit jobs, bounced around trying to find my way. That path became clear with the birth of my first daughter.
Rayne Rahsyah and Roséyah
One thing I was always sure of. I AM a mother. When I had my first daughter her father bounced on me, I was BACK at my grandmother’s house, and STILL broken from things I never healed from. But when she was born, just like with my siblings growing up, I made it my mission to take care of her the best I could. I worked, got my Bachelor’s, and made sure she always had her own. Of course, I made mistakes, but even now, my vow is that I will continue to grow into a better mother and she and her siblings will always get the best I can give.
So that means right now, I’m getting my master’s degree in clinical counseling. That means I teach my children all that I know and show them the love I never got. That means I’ll be mom and dad. That means I cherish every smile, hug, cry, and milestone they have. That means I will liberate them from this system of oppression and teach them who they really are. It means that I will help create a better place for them by sharing my story and helping others to share and heal from theirs too.
When YOU read my story, if it resonates with you, what I hope it means for you is that you feel empowered enough; strong enough to start the healing process. I hope that by understanding how I learned to love myself unconditionally, you will love yourself unconditionally too. Somebody gets you. I am you, you are me, and we all are one.
Deep down, do you like helping people? Me too.
The writing program has been effective in schools, churches, Boys & Girls Club, and various other organizations. The impact is the same everywhere we go: many begin the healing process from whatever pain they’re feeling inside. They stop cutting, selling drugs, being promiscuous, bullying, and most importantly, they develop a love of writing to help them process all of their experiences in a healthy way.
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